Monday, 29 December 2014

Eulogy for a Friend

It is with mixed emotions that we announce the passing of "Spock," our beloved Vulcan Nomad. Spock has been in the family since the spring of 2007 when he arrived with only 1km showing on his odometer. It was love at first sight.

His 1600cc engine provided plenty of power on the biggest trip of his short life, when a few years back he joined three others on a trip to biker Mecca, Sturgis. The 3500km trip included stops at Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, and several other interesting vistas and destinations. It was a good time had by all. Those who may be interested can read more details of that adventure here.

But life has a way of pitching you some sudden curve balls and changing things. Perceptions of what's really important in life can also change. Over the past few years he found himself being ridden less and less to the point where last season, other than about 400km, he remained ignored in the garage. Since the previous season wasn't much better (perhaps only 1000km in total), and the next season didn't look too promising either, it was decided that he should move on to someone who could show him a little more attention and love rather than face another abusive parked season.

Based upon the seven ride-less years between the Vulcan and his Goldwing predecessor, the odds are not good of welcoming a new bike into the family any time soon, and so we may just say goodbye altogether to another chapter in our lives, motorcycling. Oh well, as they say in French, "C'est la Vie."

Goodbye old friend. RIP.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Carolling: The Other Side of Christmas Past?

What ever happened to Christmas carol singers? Do you remember them?

Try as I might, in my fifty plus years, I don't think I've ever experienced a Christmas where I've heard people outside my door singing carols. And yet many legends and art work of Christmases past sing the praises of the carollers.

Oh, what an era that must have been as perfect strangers, innocently walking down the street, stopped suddenly outside your door to serenade you with carols of yuletide cheer.

Then again, I've often been told by my dear wife to get my hearing checked. Who knows, maybe they've been there all along and I've just been too deaf to hear them. Maybe I need a sign like this on my door too.

If ever you had any doubt before as to my twisted sense of humour, the cartoon in this post could quite possibly eliminate such a misconception.

Merry Christmas.

Cartoon source: Unknown

Saturday, 20 December 2014

A Christmas Dinner Alternative? If I Had My Way ...

Chili, it's quite possibly my favourite food. I wonder if my wife would accept this as an alternative to the usual Christmas fare offering of turkey, mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts? Hmm, probably not.

Still, if I had my way, turkeys would be perfectly safe. Cows? Not so much so. Oh well, it was worth a try; maybe next year.

In the mean time, meet "Will's, soon-to-be-famous, Chili." What's in it? I'm glad you asked. It's a secret concoction of tomatoes, ground beef, spicy Italian sausage, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, kidney and brown beans, garlic powder, chili and cayenne and black pepper, and of course, habanero peppers for that little extra punch. The only thing missing is a nice slice of buttered light rye bread and a cold beer. Heavenly!

Tempted yet? I know you are.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

A Beer Worth Searching For: Clown Shoes, Blaecorn Unidragon Russian Imperial Stout

Well you had to know that it was about to happen sooner of later.

So today while visiting my favourite beer store, I was introduced to yet another awesome beer: "Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon: Russian Imperial Stout" from Mercury Brewing Co., in Ipswich, MA.

Wow! Wow! Wow! This is definitely going to be worth an encore visit! I very well think that I may have found a new favourite; at the very least, this one's earned a place in my new top-five favourite beers list. Seriously, though, I'm starting to think it might be fun to create such a list. What an awesome beer this one turned out to be!

"Clown Shoes (what an awesome name) Blaecorn Unidragon Russian Imperial Stout" is an extra strong brew, boasting a 12.5% alc/vol. It is so dark that it's almost black in colour and I remember joking, "Should I drink it or seal the driveway with it?" That first sip of this amazing beer "Imbued with a monstrous amount of dark malt and aggressive hops" (according to the label), quickly answered that question; forget the driveway!

So if you dare, check out http://www.clownshoesbeer.com and search for a vendor near you. You won't be sorry. One word of advice, though, after you crack this one open, you're probably best leaving the car in the garage; after only one beer, I was left with a good buzz.

So until next time, fellow beer snobs, remember, life's too short to drink crappy beer. Cheers!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

A Glimpse into Yesteryear's Advertising

Advertising that we'll never see again ... Thankfully.





I wonder if my wife would really be happier Christmas morning if I bought her a Hoover? Hmm











Maybe instead of a Hoover, she'd rather have a new Kenwood mixer. Is that "what wives are for?" Wow!




If neither the Hoover nor the Kenwood appeal to her, or if she already got them on Christmases past, we could always let her choose one of these sexy new kitchen gadgets. Wouldn't she be thrilled?



Don't worry about getting fat by keeping your wife in the kitchen all the time. Last time she went shopping she stocked up on jar-packed "Sanitized Tape Worms." They will take care of any extra calories. So go ahead; "Eat, Eat, Eat!"




Then, when the baby needs feeding, she can further bond with the child over a Blatz beer. What a great way to be "Picked Up" after a long day of cooking and cleaning.  And when little Mary grows up, she'll fondly remember her first "Girl's Night Out" with mom, assuming she has any brain cells left to remember mom with.




"How soon is too soon?" When it's time to wean junior off mother's milk and Blatz beer, it's only logical that it's time to introduce the child to cola. Yummy. Apparently it's never too soon.



Once that cola habit is firmly in place, it's time to introduce them to that wonderful babysitter, your new Motorola television set. The benefits to our children are ... "better behaviour at home and better marks in school." Hmm.



Then after too much cola while being properly educated in front of all those hours of TV, the toothaches will begin due to all that sugar. Thankfully there's Lloyd Manufacturing's "Cocaine Toothache Drops," guaranteed to bring an instantaneous cure ... and a life-long addictions problem.



Of course, it's not just the teeth that will rot and fall out from all that cola; mama's little princess may become mama's little "Chubbie." No matter, Lane Bryant has a wardrobe for her too. Doesn't that just ring out encouragement? Hmm.



Guys, what can we say? The harder our wives work, the cuter they look. It must be true; advertisers don't lie, do they? Now if that isn't the best pick up line ever, I don't know what is. (I'm kidding, of course).



If she doesn't follow you with that pick up line, try blowing smoke in her face and she'll certainly follow you anywhere. There's no turn-on for a woman quite as grand as second-hand smoke deliberately blown her way!



She may even follow you to see the doctor about that sore throat. No doubt the doctor will recommend you give up the Tipalets you've been smoking and switch to Camels. After all, "More doctors smoke camels than any other cigarette!" Doctor knows best.



So go ahead, "Have a fag!" Everyone knows, there's probably a better chance of being killed by being struck by a bus than from smoking anyway. Have a fag?



And what a better place to enjoy "a fag," than by taking "a Gay Cruise." Doesn't that just sound wonderful? Look how much fun those adults are having playing with their children's puppets. Doesn't it just make you want to book a voyage on American Export Lines? Where do I sign up? Hmm, Not!




Well there you have it; a glimpse back in time to yesteryear's advertising. If we've changed that much since those days, it kind of makes one wonder what advertising will look like in 50 or 100 years from now. Do you suppose future generations will shake their heads in disbelief at our advertising today just like we've done with ads such as these? I wonder what other common words today will someday evolve into completely different meanings. Hmm.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

What's in a Street Name?

Every once in a while one comes across something that makes one sit up and say, "Hmm."

If you have a twisted humorist vein running through you like I do, then you know the sort of things that I mean. Scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning, I discovered yet another of those "Hmm" moments.

Imagine living on a street with this name?

Oh the jokes that could, and probably have, spawned from this street name. Not to make fun of the misfortunes of others, but for some reason the first thing I thought of centred around the infamous John and Lorena Bobbitt. In that 1993 saga, Lorena got mad at her husband John, and as he slept, cut off his ... well, you can get the gory details from the previous Wikipedia link. (I can't believe that twisted event is already more than twenty years old).

Depending upon whether or not one views their address in some twisted way as an extension of their persona, you might want to consider buying that new family home somewhere with a more appealing street name, like "Bella Vista Drive." There, doesn't that sound better?

Well there you have it; another random "Hmm" moment from The Other Side of Will. What's in a street name? You decide.

Photo Source: Unknown

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Arrogant Bastard Ale: You're Not Worthy

ar.ro.gance (ar'o gans) n. The act or quality of being arrogant; haughty; undue assumption; overbearing conceit.

Hello fellow beer snobs. If you haven't already noticed, an occasional weekend hobby of mine is to sample different exotic craft beers. Today was no different, as I sampled another first: "Arrogant Bastard Ale." Does that name offend you? LOL. I'm sure they don't care.

My first sip of this California brew got me thinking, That's different. While I couldn't figure it out at first, I soon realized that it has a citrus-like flavour, and perhaps even more specifically, a hint of grapefruit, though I'm not even sure that's what I'm tasting. Still, this 7.2% alc/vol ale is refreshing and awakens the palate, just as if you had sucked on a slice or two of unsweetened grapefruit. Pucker-power; if you were half-asleep before, you would be awake after the first mouthful of this ale! I like it, and I'm sure I'll look for it again.

Maybe it's my twisted sense of humour, but I had to chuckle when I read the  Arrogant Bastard Ale label:

"This is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory - maybe something with a multi-million-dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it's made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beverage will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million-dollar ad campaigns make a beer taste better. Perhaps you're mouthing your words as you read this.

"At Stone Brewing, we believe that pandering to the lowest common denominator represents the height of tyranny - a virtual form of keeping the consumer barefoot and stupid. Brought forth upon an unsuspecting public in 1997, Arrogant Bastard Ale openly challenged the tyrannical overlords who were brazenly attempting to keep Americans chained in the shackles of poor taste. As the progenitor of its style, Arrogant Bastard Ale has reveled in its unprecedented and uncompromising celebration of intensity. There have been many nods to Arrogant Bastard Ale ... even outright attempts to copy it ... but only one can ever embody the true nature of liquid Arrogance!

"QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS? If you don't like this beer, keep it to yourself - we don't want to hear from any sniveling yellow-beer-drinkin' wimps, cause this beer wasn't made for you."

Well, there you have it. I've enjoyed today's taste test, and even grinned a little as I read the previous descriptor. I will no doubt explore some of the other offerings from the Stone Brewing Company in the future. Please remember, enjoy responsibly and NEVER drink and drive.

For more about this or other brews, visit the Stone Brewing Company or arrogantbastard.com. Oh, and by the way, if you're a beer snob like me (and contrary to the label), "You Are Worthy!" Peace.

Stout Beer Jelly

Good morning fellow foodies and beer enthusiasts. Look what I just found ...

It appears that now it's possible to have a stout ale, not just in a glass after work, but also as a part of your breakfast menu options, spread on your favourite bread.

How cool is that?

The jelly is really quite tasty and, yes, apparently it does have a "slight" alcohol content, although I can't imagine it being too much. My only complaint, the 125ml (4oz) jar is far too small. Hopefully it's also available in a larger and more user-friendly size.

For more on this and other similar products, check out their website, winejelly.ca.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Pothole Filler: No Longer Just for Roadways

"He was a wise man who invented beer."
(attributed to Plato)

If you're a regular on this blog, you may have come to realize that I have developed a passion for exotic craft beers. Thankfully, there's an awesome local establishment known as the Wine Cavern that, besides  having an incredible offering of fine wines and scotch whiskey's, also boasts 1000 beers, including over 700 imported beers. Yup, you read that right; 1000 beers! (No, I haven't sampled them all ... Yet).

While thus far some of my favourite beers have come from central Canada, and specifically Quebec's Unibroue Brewery, I am discovering that there are many yet-to-be discovered other secret breweries in the world of craft beer. With this post we're going to sample a brew from Canada's west coast. One of the features on the Howe Sound Brewery menu is "Pothole Filler." With a name like that, how could my interest not be sparked? The following is a little descriptor of this interesting beer as taken from its label:

"OUR STORY: In 1980, BC's John Mitchell and Frank Appleton pioneered North America's first modern craft brewery at Horseshoe Bay on BC's spectacular Howe Sound, beginning what has become known as the craft brewing renaissance.

"In 1996, John Mitchell helped design the Howe Sound Brewery and worked as our first brewer developing our initial recipes. Known as the "grandfather of microbrewing in Canada," we are proud of his ongoing relationship with our brewery. Today we continue to brew in the craft style, using unfiltered 100% barley mash. We pride ourselves in brewing a diverse selection of flavourful, well-balanced ales. We invite you to enjoy the experience.

"THIS BEER: A strong, thick, black imperial stout brewed with six varieties of roasted malt, wheat, blackstrap molasses, five varieties of hops, yeast and Coast Range water. Brewed as a part of the John Mitchell Series, and in recognition of the women and men who constructed the Sea-to-Sea Highway, from Horseshoe Bay through Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. Thank You!"

After my first couple sips of Pothole Filler, I wasn't really sure what to think. At 9% alc/vol, it was clearly a stronger tasting stout ale than I've been accustomed to, though I've enjoyed strong beers before. Perhaps it was the molasses that one could clearly distinguish, and yet I didn't find it overbearing. If you enjoy a Guinness-styled stout beer, you'll probably enjoy this one. And seeing as how it comes in a 1-Litre bottle (a little over 1-quart for my American friends), there's plenty in the bottle to give your palate a good opportunity to appreciate it.

But what's a great beer without a great sandwich?

I paired my tasting of Pothole Filler with a couple homemade Will-styled grilled cheese sandwiches. To create this masterpiece, pre-sautee some chopped mushrooms and set aside. The sandwich is built upon natural Canadian rye bread with generous slices of Armstrong Old Cheddar, slices of raw onion, and the previously cooked mushrooms. Garnish with a couple slices of garlic dill pickles. Heavenly!

Well there you have it, fellow beer snobs. Happy Pothole filling (LOL), and Happy Saturday.

Friday, 17 October 2014

It's Always A Good Time for A Resolution

Hello fellow beer snobs.

Allow me to introduce you to my newest discovery, LA RÉSOLUTION. The more and more I sample Unibroue products, the harder it is to go back to the run-of-the-mill, cesspool varieties. LA RÉSOLUTION is so new that, at the time of this writing, it hadn't even made it to their website yet.

Oh my, oh my, oh my! This is amazing! At $11:00 for a 750ml bottle, it is pricier than most. However, most don't have anything on this one! (in my humble opinion, of course). Like everything else in life, you only get what you pay for.

"LA RÉSOLUTION, a dark ale at 10% alcohol with spicy character, was inspired by a recipe our brewmaster created for his friends. Its spicy caramel aroma evolves on the palate into pleasant and complex notes of toffee with reminiscence of a tasty gingerbread. The perfect balance between spicy, caramel and roasted malt flavours is complimented by a nice roundness and persistent finish. LA RÉSOLUTION has a festive feel, perfect for the holidays, but it can easily be enjoyed all year long. After all, it's always a good time for a Resolution."

For other great Unibroue products, check out a couple other favourites of mine.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Beer from the "End of the World"

"He was a wise man
who invented beer"
(attributed to Plato)

Sometimes you have to go to "The End of the World" to find good beer (pun fully intended). The name of the beer on the right, "La Fin Du Monde," translates as "The End of the World." I'm not sure what to do with the other beer, though. While it tastes great, "Maudite" translates from the French as "accursed" or "damned." Hmm.

If you're a regular visitor to this blog, you may be thinking to yourself, "I've seen one of these beers before," and you'd be right. I've previously made mention of it here back in July 2013. However that time, I had not yet become acquainted with its sister beer, the "Maudite."

Both beers in this picture come from Unibroue Breweries in Quebec, Canada. These two beers are significantly more potent, with almost double the alcohol per volume of the average run-of-the-mill common beers that many people gravitate toward. The "Maudite" comes in at 8% alcohol per volume, whereas the "La Fin Du Monde" boasts a whopping 9% alcohol per volume. In other words, one of these beers will have the same effect on you as two of the more common beers, but with significantly better taste (in my humble opinion).

Welcome to Canada, eh?

Granted, you do pay a little more for them, but as with most things in life, quality usually costs more. As someone once said, "If you're content with the oats that have already gone through the horse, they can be had a little cheaper." I bought a cheaper brand of beer recently (I don't know what I was thinking; I must have had a brain fart) and it did taste like it had already gone through the horse. Hmm, recycled beer? I must have missed that on the label. That stuff still sits in the back of the fridge.

Another interesting thing about these two bottles of beer is their size. They contain 750 ml each, or for my American friends, about 26 ounces! It sort of gives the "I only had two beer" a whole new meaning, not to mention the advantage of not having to run to the fridge as often.

Well there you have it. Anyone for a beer?

(Yes, for the faint of heart, they come in regular small bottles too).

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

We've Come A Long Way from the Stage Coach

This is what dusk at 37,000 feet over Northern Ontario looks like. How cool is that? Air travel never ceases to amaze me.

Roughly 2884 kilometres (or for my American friends, 1792 miles) in only four hours? Imagine what our grandparents would say about that?

I remember visiting Fort Edmonton Park and seeing a historic stage coach with a sign beside it that said, if I remember correctly, that it used to leave Edmonton on a Monday and arrive in Calgary on the following Friday. The distance? About 299 kilometres (186 miles).

My, how times have changed! Five days to travel 299km versus four hours to travel 2884km. Almost mind boggling, isn't it?

Cruising on Solid Ground?

No, this is not photoshopped; nor did this ship wash up on shore in some recent tropical storm.

Every once in a while, one sees something online that makes you take a second look. For me, this picture was one of those moments. Apparently someone thought there's a market for taking a cruise and never leave the shore. Now you and I can have all the luxuries of the cruise without risking the potential sea sickness or some other off-shore misadventure. Now that's different!

If you want to see some more great photo's of this "ship," check out this site. Wow! So if you don't have your sea-legs, and yet dream of a cruise, maybe this vacation in South Korea is for you.



Happy sailing.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Real Men Do Eat Quiche

Yes, Virginia, real men do eat quiche. They especially eat quiche that is the soon-to-be famous, "Quiche a la Will."

(No pride here)

My secret? OK, if you insist.

It all starts with half a pound of bacon, pre-chopped, fried, and drained. Next chop about a quarter onion, a handful of mushrooms, and a bunch of broccoli. Next I sprinkled them into two Tenderflake deep dish pie shells. To this concoction, I added about fourteen eggs that were scrambled with a dash of milk. Next came a light sprinkling of cayenne pepper (MUST have a little bit of a spice-kick).

All this went into a 350 degree Fahrenheit pre-heated oven for, I don't know, until the creation was no longer liquid and there was a nice brown on the shell. Next I sprinkled a little grated Armstrong Old Cheddar onto the quiche, and returned it to the oven until melted.

For those who are calorie conscious, as near as I can tell, each pie is about 1700 calories, or about 425 calories per quarter pie serving.

What do you serve it with? A second slice, of course. Who says, "Real men don't eat quiche?" This one does.

Fast-food? You've got nothing on me!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Elephant Artist or Imprisoned Circus Performer?

"I go to movies, go out with friends, go to car shows. I have a zoo." ~Axl Rose

"I believe sustainable use is the greatest propaganda in wildlife conservation at the moment." ~Steve Irwin

What is your take on the training and use of wildlife? Are you OK with it? Or do you have some concerns?

A friend shared the following video on Facebook recently. It was quite possibly one of the more amazing things I have ever seen from the animal kingdom; I was clearly blown away by it. Wow! I certainly did not realize that elephants were that intelligent! If I didn't see it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it.

While amazing, I also have some reservations, but we'll get to those later. First, the video.



Incredible? It certainly is. But now to my issue.

While at the West Edmonton Mall recently, we happened to see part of an afternoon show involving sea lions. It was cute, and all, and they certainly did not seem to be harmed in any way. It was even mildly entertaining. However, what really bothered me was what I saw and heard between the two sea lion acts we observed. As the one sea lion jumped up onto dry ground and was led back into it's "cage," (Yes, from where I stood I actually saw the jail-cell like cage, complete with bar doors), the clanging sound of the cell door rang through that part of the mall. That unnerved me. Oh, I know the sea lions could not remain unattended and wander the mall, and I also know that given the stupidity of many people, that enclosure was possibly even for their own protection. Still, to see and hear the closing of a steel-barred door that looked like it may have come from Alcatraz Prison, well, it just left a bad taste in my mouth.

The subliminal message to the animals I heard was, "Go entertain these fine people, and then get back in your cage." Then there they sit until the next "show."

I have a problem with circus acts that involve the training of animals to be something other than what they naturally were created to be. Other than some of the newer bar-free enclosures, I also have a problem with zoos. To capture and/or train wildlife simply for the entertainment of humans is, in my books, wrong. I am not suggesting that the animals suffer any harm during their training process, but I'm equally not totally convinced that they don't experience some measure of discomfort either.

I couldn't help but think of that old 1968 movie, The Planet of the Apes, in which an astronaut travels to another planet where he discovers a primitive human race being dominated by intelligent apes. Obviously the whole story was sci-fi and highly entertaining (more so than the sea lions at WEM or even the video above). Still, to see humans in zoo-like cages for the sole purpose of entertaining the apes, well it's almost like karma (not that I personally believe in karma).

Then again, I can probably think of a person or two that I would get a twisted form of entertainment value from if I saw them behind bars, but that's another story.

Anyways, that's the way I see it.

Photo Credit: Rana Xavier; Flickr Creative Commons

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Room Temperature: Whose, Yours or Mine?


I just heard the furnace kick on. Hmm, what’s with that? I know it’s a little cool outside, but it is also only the 9th of September, far too early in the season yet for furnace heat, wouldn’t you say? A quick check of my thermostat showed it sitting at its lowest possible setting, 14 Celsius (58 Fahrenheit). Clearly then, for the furnace to come on, the actual temperature of our humble home must have dropped below that mark. OK, maybe it’s a tad cool in the house. Perhaps that explains why folks often leave their jackets on when they come for a visit. LOL.

This got me thinking about the term, “Room Temperature.” What is room temperature?

Room temperature is basically the temperature in which most people are most comfortable. It is a temperature which is neither too hot nor too cold and which, according to Wikipedia, is an average of 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit). That means that the room temperature in our home is 9 degrees Celsius (15 degrees Fahrenheit) below what we’re told the average is. That’s pretty significant.

Obviously we all have different internal thermostats, and as such the very term “room temperature” really is quite subjective. It was only a few weeks ago that I checked into a hotel room and almost passed out! Why? The room’s thermostat was set at the average room temperature of 23 degrees. While for most it may have been comfortable; for me it seemed to be sucking the life right out of me. Fortunately, by resetting the thermostat and opening the windows, I could correct that excessive temperature flaw in a short time, make it a little more bearable, and bring my hotel room a little closer to my idea of "room temperature."

As much as I enjoy summer, and live for those lazy summer days outdoors, the advantage for me of this time of year is that it is easier to get comfortable. One can always add another layer of clothing if needed, but there are only so many layers that one can take off and not get arrested for indecent exposure. Room temperature: whose, yours or mine?

Hmm, I guess it is a little cool in here. Excuse me as I go get a sweater and my slippers.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Red Neck Wind Chimes

I love wind chimes. We don't have a lot of them, but with southern Alberta's regular winds, enough to always hear some interesting wind-generated sounds ringing across our deck.

Having always been somewhat of a "Red Neck," not to mention being responsible for putting away a few ice cold Coors Light in my day, needless to say I was thrilled to receive this hand-made wind chime from a dear friend.

Thanks, Delores; I love it!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Rethinking My Social Media Involvement


So, I almost committed the unpardonable sin; I almost deactivated my Facebook account.

As a matter of fact, I did click the deactivate button, and as I did, I waited for the bolt of lightening that surely would send me into the afterlife, but the interesting thing is, it never came.

As a matter of fact, I was almost amazed that for those brief moments that I sat perched ready to pounce on the “confirm” deactivation link, nothing happened at all; the world didn’t end.

As I sat there, I thought of all those endless hours that in recent years I wasted on social media; hours that are now forever lost.

Please understand, I do not want to sound judgmental in any way towards those who clearly enjoy and regularly participate in such online activities. That is not my intent in saying this. To each their own. I say it only as a part of my reflection on how I might have otherwise spent those hours. Perhaps I could have spent the time reading some of the plethora of yet unread volumes of books in my personal library, which now currently numbers somewhere in excess of 1000 volumes, and is still ever growing.

Perhaps I could have spent more time in prayer and meditation, or physically left the house and spent some face to face time in fellowship with friends over coffee or a beer. Perhaps I could have finished writing and editing that book that has long since been started, but never yet quite finished. The possibilities of things I could have done are endless, but as the saying goes, “You can’t cry over spilt milk.” Time to move on.

So what shall I do? Click on the “confirm” deletion of some social media accounts? Though tempted, I didn’t. Instead, I eventually found the “cancel” button and kept my Facebook account active. Instead, I deleted the Facebook app from my iPhone, thinking that would reduce my online time; and it did. I did, however, keep my Facebook Pages Manager app. As of today, about the only Facebook activity that I regularly involve myself in, is managing my two pages, Rethinking Faith and Church (RF&C), and The Other Side of Will (TOSoW), which correspond to my two blogs by the same name, and which both can be found on rochow.ca. Any other Facebook activity now requires me to first log onto my computer as opposed to accessing it from my cell phone.

Well that took care of Facebook, but what about Twitter? That required some rethinking too.

It used to be that, if I remember correctly, they advertised Twitter as a means of following people and organizations that interested you. While that may yet be true, lately it seems to have also evolved into a “follow-me-or-I-won’t-follow-you” mentality, in which many folks simply follow someone, not because they’re necessarily interested in what they’re about, but in order to secure more followers themselves. If the newly followed person or organization does not re-follow in a timely manner, they’re simply “unfollowed” (is there even such a word as that?).

To help one control who has unfollowed you, and thereby presumably allow you to unfollow them in return, one can even subscribe to organizations such as justunfollow.com. They will help you keep track of who unfollowed you so that you can reciprocate and unfollow them too. Tit for tat, seems to have become the order of the day with Twitter. Follow me back, or else!

But I must say, I am amused at Twitter accounts that advertise the opportunity to instantly "purchase" 1000's of followers. Really? Says something about where our minds are at with social media, wouldn't you say? Is that what we've come to, "buying" friends and followers? Hmm.

Whatever happened to following someone just because they’re interesting to me, without expecting anything in return? Have we become that self centered and prideful that the whole social media thing no longer has anything to do with focusing on the other, but has everything to do with the numbers game of self? Is that what we’ve evolved into? How pathetic!

And as I say that, I speak to myself. How many times have I too followed someone on Twitter, not because their message necessarily interests me, but with the ulterior motive and expectation that they will follow me back? And when they don’t? Well that’s easy; unfollow them (that will teach them!). Again, how pathetic! Woe is me! Have I become that prideful?

Again, this is not a judgment call on anyone, except myself. So where do I go from here? After some more rethinking, here’s my new personal Twitter policy:

  •  I am tired of online mind games
  • I fail to see how I can possibly faithfully “follow” several hundred (or thousand) people/organizations at any true degree of the word “follow”
  • I refuse to follow someone simply because they follow me
  • I refuse to follow anyone with the ulterior motive that they follow me back
  • I will only initially follow someone whose profile or recent tweets interests or amuses me, be they “Christian” or not
  • I will only continue to follow them if, (1) their tweets continue to interest or amuse me, or (2) we have some sort or semi-regular dialogue one with one another, through either commenting on each other’s tweets, or by retweeting each other. In other words, more of a connection than simply a numbers game
  • I reserve the right to unfollow anyone I choose, and I grant the same right to anyone to unfollow me if they choose to, without any ill feelings on my part one way or another

Well there you have it; my new take and personal position on social media, and my (limited) online activity. If I don’t re-follow or accept friend requests, please don’t be offended; you’re probably not alone. It’s nothing personal. Lately, “friend requests” and “following” with me, often amounts to simply a flip of the coin. Again, it’s nothing personal.

Peace.

Photo Credit: Rosaura Ochoa, Flickr Creative Commons